By Daniel Hunter

More than fifty colleges across the country will be spending £412 million on projects ranging from the creation of a state-of-the-art civil engineering academy to transforming classrooms into modern vocational workshops, thanks to co-investment from the Government.

The Government is investing £110 million, through the Skills Funding Agency, which will be more than matched with £302 million investment from colleges.

The funding is the third phase of the Enhanced Renewal Grant (ERG3) which has contributed £330 million since May 2010, supporting over £1 billion of investment in college buildings across England.

Making the announcement at the Association of Colleges (AoC) Conference, Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

"These projects will transform the learning environment for thousands of students across the country, providing them with state-of-the-art facilities and modern resources that will help them fulfil their potential.

"Addressing gaps in skills is an important part of our industrial strategy. This initiative is another example of how Government is working in long-term partnership with industry to give them more confidence to invest, hire and grow."

Examples of successful bids submitted to the Skills Funding Agency, who conducted the assessment and moderation process, include:

South Essex College of Further and Higher Education has raised almost £40 million which will be combined with nearly £3 million grant support to build a new town centre site. It will have facilities ranging from mechanical engineering workshops to student training kitchens
A new £4 million agriculture building at Bridgwater College in Somerset which will address the growing demand for specialist rural skills and develop closer links with the agriculture industry in the region
A new £7.7 million creative industries building at Kingston College to replace current facilities
£8.1 million on refurbishing the campus and building new arts facilities at Burton and South Derbyshire College.
Kim Thorneywork, Chief Executive of the Skills Funding Agency, said:

“Following a high demand of inspirational applications for the Enhanced Renewal Grant, it is great news that the Agency and BIS are able to announce the successful colleges who will receive government funding, through the Agency, to support their projects and enable them to be brought to life.

“This additional funding demonstrates the Government’s continued commitment to the further education estate allowing students to grow and flourish in an exciting, inspirational, modern learning environment in the heart of the local community.”

Julian Gravatt, AoC Assistant Chief Executive, said:

"AoC is delighted to have supported the recent Enhanced Renewal Grant funding process. These grants will provide much needed capital funding to colleges across England.

“These colleges will now be able to improve their facilities for the benefit of the learners, businesses and the communities they serve."

In May this year all colleges were invited to apply for up to £3 million for individual projects, with an expectation that the facilities will be ready to use by September 2014. The resources are aimed at colleges that have not received significant funding in the recent past.

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